This is solely due to the fact that they are the most easy-going, accommodating, fun-loving and flexible family on the face of the earth.
We subjected them to all the challenges of Middle East travel: jet lag, heat, humidity, mountains of garbage, endless traffic jams, hours of driving on narrow, windy mountain roads, and of course the gastrointestinal issues that come with food not always prepared to western standards of hygiene. Nothing fazed them.
I can’t really explain their endless enthusiasm, good nature, and inability to whine, although I suspect that the fact that they are all either former college and/or professional athletes, or did a stint in the military, and are all in superior athletic condition, has something to do with their cheerful countenance in the face of adversity.
Our planned 5 mile scenic mountain hike morphed into a 12 mile forced march through narrow trails lined with thorns requiring bouldering our way up rocky cliffs, and they didn’t even break a sweat! While I was fantasizing about stabbing our guide with my hiking poles the next time he assures us that it’s “just one more kilometer”, they were gaily taking pictures and admiring the view. Nor were they intimidated by the pack of snarling goat-guarding dogs that charged us before the shepherd called them off. They could outrun the dogs if necessary!
They enthusiastically dug into fish piled high on platters served at a seaside café- nonplussed by the glassy fish eyes still intact. They danced with abandon at a music hall until the wee hours of the morning, and a few hours later were bright-eyed at breakfast ready for another rigorous day of site seeing. They hardly grimaced while drinking the fiery licorice alcohol Arak or strong bitter Turkish coffee. And they "oohed" and "aahed" at all the right times and places as we toured ancient cedars, Roman ruins and Phoenician fortresses. They truly seemed to appreciate a country, for which we have, what we readily admit, is, at times, an inexplicable affection.
And, the most astounding thing is, now that they have had a few weeks to recover, they claim they want to go back! We won’t hold them to this, of course, in case they are just being polite, but we would, without hesitation, travel with them anytime and anywhere!